Lovers Rock

Lovers Rock

Estelle was born during the height of lovers rock—the London-centered subgenre that smoothed out the rhythms of reggae and rocksteady into something more soulful and woman-dominated in the ’70s and ’80s. Her fifth album is a heartfelt homage to those roots, updated for 2018. Beyond reggae, the husky-voiced Brit draws from diasporic sounds like dancehall and Afrobeats and welcomes a worldy array of guests, from Jamaica’s Kranium to British-Nigerian singer Maleek Berry. At the heart of Lovers Rock, though, is the true story of her parents’ reconciliation after being separated for two decades; “Sweetly,” somewhere between reggae and doo-wop, is the wistful breakup song they never got to have. It’s an imaginary soundtrack for their expectations-defying journey, through which Estelle learns her own lessons about romantic love, and self-love, too.

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